PR Products I Would Not Repurchase With My Own $$$

Today’s post will be the start of yet another series on my blog (at this point I’ve lost track at the number of series I’ve got going on; I should probably make a list on the sidebar…) The title of the post pretty much gives it away: it’s a series on PR products that did not work out for me. The series will range from products I think are just meh to products I think are just straight-up awful.

If you follow me on IG you know that I don’t shy away from negative reviews, even on products I’ve received as PR. Hell, if you read my blog you probably know that as well. And thus a series was born.

When I first sat down to write this post I was also going to include a product I loved from every brand featured in this post, but I stopped and asked myself why? Why should I have to apologize and be defensive for not liking a product? So I decided not to do that. This post isn’t an attack on the brands featured in the post, it’s just a list of products that did not work out for me. Sometimes it seems that bloggers have to be overly delicate with our opinions. There’s nothing wrong with disliking something. It’s not an attack on a brand or a person. Furthermore, we should not feel indebted for receiving PR cause it’s a two-way street. Just because you received something for free does not mean you’re obligated to give it a positive review or keep your mouth shut about a negative review.

Mini rant over.

Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen

$115 available via Sephora & Algenist
Ingredients: Collagen, Water, Propanediol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Betaine, Pentylene Glycol, Dextrin Palmitate, Collagen Amino Acids, Parachlorella Beijerinckii Exopolysaccharides, Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Helichrysum Stoechas Extract, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract, Niacinamide, Tocopherol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Adenosine, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Palmitic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Carbomer, Sodium Lactate, Amodimethicone, Homosalate, Polysorbate 20, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Octocrylene, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene, Beta-Carotene (CI 75130)

When this serum first came out I was intrigued… but also giving it the side eye. The selling point for this serum is that it’s the first serum to have collagen listed as the first ingredient. And vegan collagen at that. After a browse through the Beauty Brains I learned that topical application of collagen can help hydrate and plump the skin but it doesn’t have any long-term effects. So am I willing to pay $115 for something that will make my skin a little bit more hydrated and plump? Survey says no. If I’m paying big money for a product you best believe I expect big money results. And this simply does not deliver those for me.

Yes, it is moderately hydrating but that’s it. It’s not even amongst the most hydrating serums I have in my stash.

One of the most common complaints I’ve heard about this serum is about the packaging. It comes with a syringe that can be tricky to use. But once you figure out how to use it (ie press down when the syringe is outside the bottle, and then lift your finger once it’s back in the bottle) it’s not an issue.

I recently started using the First Aid Beauty Ultimate Repair Hydrating Serum (also a PR gift) and like it so much more. It’s not a dupe, but it also includes a reasonably high amount of soluble collagen (the third listed ingredient; I’m not sure if it’s vegan or not) as well as other soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, green tea extract, and hyaluronic acid (although this one is listed further down.) I get a similar smoothing effect when I use this serum except it’s much more hydrating, doesn’t irritate my skin, and doesn’t pill up under oils. It’s also free of fragrance and essential oils, has an easier to use dispenser, and costs 1/3 the price of the Algenist serum.

Clarins Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate

$89.00 available via Sephora, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, & Ulta
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Glycerin, Isononyl Isononanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentylene Glycol, Ppg-3 Myristyl Ether, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Dipsacus Sylvestris Extract, Butylene Glycol, Parfum/ Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Propanediol, Tromethamine, Silybum Marianum Seed Oil, Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Escin, Cheno -Podium Quinoa Seed Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Squalane, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Leontopodium Alpinum Extract, Xanthan Gum, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil Unsaponifiables, Caramel, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Kalanchoe Pinnata Leaf Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Myrothamnus Flabellifolia Leaf/Stem Extract, Disodium Edta, Tocopherol, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Maltodextrin, Orthosiphon Stamineus Extract, Hedychium Coronarium Root Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Leaf Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Jania Rubens Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Engelhardtia Chrysolepis Leaf Extract, Ci 14700/Red 4, Callicarpa Japonica Fruit Extract

This is another hyped up serum that I did not get on with at all. It’s got a cult following and I really question the teachings of said cult.

At first glance this serum looks super cool. The pump allows you to customize the dosage you get. And the consistency of the serum is pretty cool too! It’s like an oil in a water-based solution which I really like. If you don’t enjoy using oils, products with this type of consistency are a nice starting point for adding more moisture to your skin. But things go downhill from here.

This product aims to help firm up skin and improve elasticity, while also targeting dullness and texture issues. It did none of those things for me. The star ingredients aka the 21 “potent anti-aging plant extracts” are all listed after fragrance and phenoxyethanol, a preservative that’s legal limit is usually 1%. I don’t know the percentages necessary for the plant extracts to be effective, but I’m going to guess some of them are more than 1% as I’ve seen them in higher percentages in a variety of products. It’s disappointing when a product with a near $100 price tag contains more fragrance than it does active ingredients.

Speaking of fragrance, it’s very heavy in this serum. It doesn’t smell bad but it does have a heady, grandma-y type of scent. Usually, fragrance in skincare doesn’t irritate my skin but I’m going to guess the amount present in this serum was too much for even my skin to handle—after a few days of use I got a small cluster of breakouts along my jawline and neck. Thankfully I’ve since been using it on my chest and it hasn’t irritated the skin there. It also hasn’t firmed or brightened anything either. It adds some moisture and that’s about it.

Youth to the People Age Prevention Superfood Serum

$62.00 available via DermstoreSephoraNordstromAnthropologie, & Cult Beauty
Ingredients: Water, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-37, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Brassica Oleracea (Kale) Leaf Extract, Spinacea Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Brassica Oleracea (Kale) Leaf Oil, Superoxide Dismutase, L-Tyrosine, Sodium Citrate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate

I wanted to love this serum so so so much. I’ve had a stellar experience with every other Youth to the People product I’ve tried. Their clay mask is hands down the most hydrating clay mask I’ve tried and their moisturizer was one of my go-to products in the spring and summer. Sadly this serum did not follow suit.

Like all the other Youth to the People products, the ingredients list is ace. It’s got AHAs, vitamin C, peptides, green tea extract, and antioxidants. By all means it should be brightening and firming and hydrating and all around magical.

Unfortunately, after a solid month and a half of near daily use, I saw no difference in my skin. I originally wanted to try it to see if it could be a more affordable alternative to Sunday Riley’s good genes (which also contains lactic acid as it’s active ingredient.) It didn’t break me out… but it also didn’t do anything beneficial for my skin. I’ll probably use it up because I guess it’s sort of moisturizing, but it’s not something I would repurchase due to lack of results.

Also a minor annoyance of mine was the completely clear packaging. While it looks chic I don’t think it’s the best way to protect the serum from potential sun damage (I kept mine stored in a drawer to prevent that.)

OUAI Dry Shampoo

$24.00 available via Sephora, Nordstrom, & Urban Outfitters
Ingredients: Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, Dimethyl Ether, Alcohol Denat., VP/VA Copolymer, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hedychium Coronarium (Ginger) Root Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata (Passion Flower) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Acetyl Triethyl Citrate, PEG/PPG-17/18 Dimethicone, Zeolite, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin, Magnesium Carbonate, Butylene Glycol, Water, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Benzoic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Fragrance

I’ve tried some truly awful dry shampoos but I think this one almost takes the cake (the worst one will forever be Dry Bar’s triple sec.) This does absolutely nothing except make my hair smell perfumey. It barely gives me texture and it sure as hell does not make my roots look less greasy. If anything, it makes my hair look more disgusting!

Most times if a dry shampoo doesn’t work at hiding oily roots, I’ll use it to add volume to my hair but it’s not even worth it with this dry shampoo. I hate throwing away half-used products but I think this is one I’ll just have to let go of.

Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo

$22.00 available via Bloomingdale's, Barney's, Malin + Goetz, Mr. Porter, & Nordstrom
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Glycerin, Cocamide MIPA, Fragrance (Parfum), Panthenol, Polyquaternium-7, Polyquaternium-10, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Citrate, Methoxy PEG/PPG-7/3 Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Alanine, Arginine, Betaine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Lysine, Proline, Serine, Sodium PCA, Sorbitol, Threonine, Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate, Limonene, Geraniol

With all the sulfate-free rage these days, I’m always shocked to find sulfates featured so heavily in luxury brand haircare and bodycare products. As I said in my Instagram review of this shampoo, SULFATES ARE NOT THE DEVIL. Yes, they can be irritating to your skin and eyes depending on the concentration, but it also depends on the person. Furthermore, I haven’t found any credible evidence supporting the claim that sulfates are carcinogenic.

All that said, I cannot tolerate sulfates in haircare products 9 out of 10 times. This is one of those 9 times. This shampoo exacerbates my dandruff and makes my scalp incredibly itchy. My hair also got oilier after a few consecutive uses. And it doesn’t deliver any sort of tingliness that I usually get from tea tree/ peppermint shampoos.

Erborian Black Cleansing Oil

$29.00 available via Sephora
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Coco-Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Amino Acids, Lauric Acid, Acrylates Copolymer, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, Charcoal Powder, Centella Asiatica Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium-7, Hexylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Ppg-26-Buteth-26, Disodium Edta, Tetrasodium Edta, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Capric Acid, Myristic Acid

I feel like calling this a cleansing oil is a big fat lie. Sure, it looks like a cleansing oil on the outside but as soon as you dispense it and start rubbing it in you’ll see how soapy it is.

Have you ever tried lathering up hand-soap without any water? You know that slimy texture you get? Yeah, that’s the same texture you get when rubbing in this cleansing “oil.” And once you add water to wash it away it leaves a squeaky film behind. I didn’t even bother testing this on my eyes because even when I used them in the general vicinity of my eyes, they started tearing (I do have uber sensitive eyes tho.)

It also has a pitifully short shelf life of 3 months. Those 3 months have come and gone and I haven’t noticed anything off with the product, but I still don’t use it on my face. Instead, I use it to wash my hands after I’ve done my makeup (somehow I always end up with a dozen different swatches on my hand.) It does an okay job of removing makeup but not as good of a job as a proper cleansing oil or balm.

I know I said I wouldn’t worry about recommending a product I enjoy from all the brands in this post, but I can’t help but mention their solid cleansing oil. It’s so much better than this cleansing oil as it properly emulsifies + rinses away all traces of makeup. Plus, it smells delish.

Collosol Eu De Lait

$18.00 available via AmazonNew London Pharmacy, & C.O. Bigelow
Ingredients: Aqua, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Vegetable Oil, Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Parfum, Sodium Hydroxide, Acrylates/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glyceryl Oleate, Colophonium

Out of everything in this post, this is probably the product I dislike the least. As in I like it the most out of everything in this post.

It’s an okay makeup remover although I still end up having to go in with a cleansing oil and second cleanser to remove everything. It doesn’t irritate my skin, although I would not use it on my eyes. I guess the selling point of this is it’s not drying to the skin but then again neither is Bioderma’s micellar water (at least for me.)

The main thing I don’t enjoy about this is the heavy perfume scent. It’s not horrible but it’s not something I particularly like in a cleansing product—it doesn’t evoke a sense of relaxation.

For around the same price I could get a 500 mL bottle of Bioderma which cleanses better and smells better. And I can use it to remove waterproof eye makeup.

Apparently, you can also use it to make your baths scented (a la Karl Lagerfeld), but again there are other products I enjoy more in that case as well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Kopari Coconut Body Glow

$42.00 available via Sephora, Anthropologie, & Kopari Beauty
Ingredients: Cocos Nucifera (Organic Coconut) Oil, Shea Butter Ethyl Esters, Coconut Alkanes, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Silica, Fragrance, Tocopherol, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide (CI#77491)

I’ve only used this a handful of times and only because I feel pressured to use it up. It’s kinda messy and a pain in the ass to use. If you put too much on it will transfer onto your clothes. Thanks to some Sephora reviewers, I learned that mixing it in with body lotion will make it easier to apply evenly.

I do like the shimmery effect it gives, but not enough to go out and spend $40 to make it happen. Maybe if it were easier and neater to use I would consider repurchasing it, but even then, I can’t really be bothered to look like a “bronze goddess.”

The End

And they all lived happily ever after!

As I said at the beginning of the post, it's not meant to be an attack on the brands or the products. And if you enjoy any of these products, you do you gurl.

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